I was even happier after I tasted it

Brooke Carey is an Editor at Gotham where she specializes in self-help, personal development, pop culture, and other non-fiction. She currently resides in Astoria, Queens but grew up in Nashville where she developed a deep, unyielding love for sad country songs and fried green tomatoes.

 

 

 

 

168hours

168 Hours: You Have More Time than You Think by Laura Vanderkam

I edited this book when I was still new to my career and had no clue how to manage my time. In fact, I had succumbed to the notion that time managed me. Laura changed all of that. This is not a book about how to make a to-do list or filter your inbox. Laura argues that, while we all say we “don’t have enough time,” we have exactly the same amount of hours—168 in a week—as anyone else. So how do some people manage to work full time, raise a family, run marathons and take up pottery while the rest of us feel like we’re constantly playing catch up? According to Laura, the first step to making the most of our hours is to look at exactly how we spend them. When we do, we realize that we waste a lot of time doing things that don’t improve our lives and are then empowered to focus on what really matters. If you don’t want to read a 270+ page book because, well, you’re pressed for time, I suggest Laura’s especial What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast.

 

howtoHow to Be Richer, Smarter and Better Looking than Your Parents by Zac Bissonnette

This is another book I worked on, so perhaps I’m a little biased, but I truly believe every twenty-something should read it. It’s a guide for young people—those who are financially independent for the first time—on how to create financial habits that will set them on the path to lifelong prosperity. This is not a book about how to make a million dollars overnight, nor is it full of complicated investment advice. Zac argues that if you commit to good money habits—saving for retirement, paying off debt—while you’re young, you’ll set yourself on the path to lifelong prosperity. He also unpacks what wealth really means—that the people who have the biggest homes and fanciest cars are often up to their eyeballs in debt—and that real wealth is about security and not having to worry about money because you’ve been smart about it your whole life. But Zac isn’t preachy. He fills the book with references to pop culture and uses Teresa Giudice and Lenny Dykstra, among others, as cautionary tales. After editing this book, I immediately upped my contribution to my 401(k).

#girlboss

#GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso

As soon as you look at Sophia, you want to be her. She’s gorgeous, poised, and hella cool. And then you learn that she built her $100-million-dollar online clothing retailer, Nasty Gal, from scratch without a college education all before the age of 30, and your head explodes. She is, in short, an inspiration, but a sassy one. #GIRLBOSS is about being awesome and not apologizing for it. It’s about finding success on your own terms, even if you’re unconventional, awkward, or have stumbled along the way (Sophia, for example, spent a good chunk of her early adulthood dumpster diving and shoplifting to get by). The book became an instant classic when it was published earlier this year, and it’s no wonder. Sophia is Jackie O meets Jack Welch. What’s not to love?

 

idon'tcare

I Don’t Care About Your Band: What I Learned from Indie Rockers, Trust Funders, Pornographers, Felons, Faux Sensitive Hipsters, and Other Guys I’ve Dated by Julie Klausner

On its face, this is a book of dating stories, but it’s so much more than that. I wish I’d had this book when I was 22 and first moved to NYC because I could have saved myself some of the drama—and trauma—that defined my dating life for the better part of a decade. Reading Klausner’s hilarious and horrifying tales of the man-children she’s encountered in her quest for true—or just functional—love is like listening to your bawdy best friend counsel and commiserate with you on what you should and should not tolerate from men (or women, or anyone, really). Read it with a bottle of wine.

 

julia

Julia Child: A Life by Laura Shapiro

Not a self-help book per se, but everyone can take a lesson from Julia Child. She was not only wildly successful but extraordinarily kind, level-headed, and full of joie de vivre. Plus, she and her husband, Paul, were deeply in love. This book made me smile, literally. I was so delighted while reading it that I couldn’t help myself. If more people lived like Julia, we’d be happier, healthier, and definitely better fed.

 

 

 

 

To find Health & Self-Improvement books, click here

See Staff Picks for all our categories! 


Saracarder

Sara Carder is Editorial Director at Tarcher / Penguin Random House where she has the great pleasure of working on books that help people lead happier, healthier lives.

 

 

 

meditation

The Power of Meditation, by Edward Viljoen

I heard Edward Viljoen speak recently and was so moved by his talk that I was eager to hear more from him. Once I found a moment to dig into his book The Power of Meditation, I was not disappointed. Edward has the ability to talk about things that are really quite serious (such as, well, sort of a biggie, how to be more at peace in your life!) with such a light touch that the wisdom of what he’s saying creeps up on you like the punch line of a great joke. In The Power of Meditation he takes what can be a very intimidating topic for some –meditation– and makes it so wonderfully accessible. If you are one of those people, like me, who is convinced that you could never “learn” how to meditate, read Edward’s book. The how and why of meditation are beautifully explained in The Power of Meditation. I have decided to give it another go.

foodrules

Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual, by Michael Pollan

As a self-help editor I experience no shortage of advice in my life. How can I be a better parent? How can I find a better live/work balance? Or – a biggie – what should I eat? I love this slim little book that tells you all you need to know really about eating healthily. After I read it, I decided I never needed to read anything else on the topic. I was also very happy because I wouldn’t have to deprive myself of delicious food. The rules for eating in this book are truly rules to live by.

 

 

 

failfast

Fail Fast, Fail Often: How Losing Can Help You Win, by Ryan Babineaux, Ph.D., and John Krumboltz, Ph.D.

Full disclosure #1: this is a book I acquired and edited for Tarcher. Full disclosure #2: when it came to me on submission from a literary agent, I thought “What a great title and I know SOOOO many people who need this book. But I’m not one of them. I know how to fail. I fail all the time and I’m good at it.” Well, I couldn’t have been more wrong. What I learned is that my fear of failure was actually one of the biggest things holding me back in life. Now, after reading this book, when there’s something I feel inspired to do, instead of not doing it because I think I can’t do it well, I tell myself, “What’s the worst thing that can happen if this doesn’t work?” And I give it a try.

 

attached

Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find—and Keep—Love, by Amir Levine, M.D., and Rachel S.F. Heller, M.A.

When my son was born I discovered that there were a lot of books out there on “Attachment Parenting.” It’s a pretty good approach to raising kids: form a deep, secure bond with your child and you will set him/her up for a happy life. I devoured these books! Attachment theory as it pertains to the parent/child bond is truly fascinating so when the proposal for this book on how an understanding of Adult Attachment research can help you better relate to your romantic partner, I was eager to read. This fascinating research reveals that, when it comes to romantic love, we are all one of the following types: Anxious, Avoidant, or Secure. And guess what the best type to be is? Secure (of course). This book will show you how to become more calm, contented, and connected in your relationship – whether you’ve found a partner or you’re still looking. This is one of the smartest self-help/psychology books I’ve ever read.

 

To find Health & Self-Improvement books, click here.

See Staff Picks for all our categories! 


Rob Holden

Rob Holden is a Marketing and Publicity Assistant for Gotham and Avery. If he could be anyone on earth, it would be the Dos Equis man. Or Anthony Bourdain. Or maybe, in a distant third, Bruce Wayne. Books are as much a part of him as true southern barbecue. And if he remembers correctly, it was Proust who once wrote (in his native French, of course) “what peanut butter can’t make better, cheese can.” No, wait – that was Rob himself.

 

 

 

 

baseball 2Baseball as a Road to God, by John Sexton

You often hear die-hard fans refer to sports as “religion” or “a way of life.” Having played baseball my whole life and being from the land of SEC football, I totally get this. So too does NYU President John Sexton. Invoking great thinkers both within and outside of baseball, he shows us how baseball and religion go hand-in-hand, and how America’s pastime can (and does) lead to a higher plane of being. If Gehrig’s heart-wrenching speech doesn’t stir you, if Gibson’s game one heroics (my personal favorite moment in baseball history) don’t give you chills, then you may well have no soul with which to contemplate the God Sexton speaks of.

 

 

psychThe Psychology of Baseball, by Mike Stadler

Ted Williams knew a thing or two about hitting a baseball, and he famously said it was the hardest thing to do in sports. Science, basic physics, would support that theory. And if you need more proof, take my baseball career as empirical evidence in the affirmative. But what is it that allows some players to hit the ball with such ease, while others flounder at the plate? Mike Stadler dives into the psychology behind what makes some players so good – from anticipation and intuition, to countless tidbits of knowledge and experience acquired. Baseball is a thinking man’s game, and Stadler beautifully proves it. Which is probably why my meteoric rise to the Major Leagues never quite happened.

 

 

9781592408290MA Religion of One’s Own, by Thomas Moore 

Nothing in a person’s life should be more personal, more individually crafted, than his or her religious or spiritual beliefs. Thomas Moore advocates a sort of theoretical approach to religion – bringing together facets of multiple faiths and adopting various principles from across the religious plane. I think he’s on to something – I’ve always felt religion should be about acceptance and personal growth. Now I’ve got Tom to back me up. A profoundly humbling and enlightening read.

 

 

 

 

remedyThe Remedy, by Thomas Goetz

It’s funny to think of our most famed and revered literary characters as having come from anywhere but the grand imaginations of our most famous authors. But, as Thomas Goetz makes obvious, such is not always the case (thank goodness). Were it not for the seemingly sloppy science behind the discovery and treatment of the tuberculosis bacteria, one Sherlock Holmes may never have entered the literary cannon. And then Robert Downey, Jr. (whom I also want to be) would never have gotten to play him in those awesome movies – and we’d all be a little bit less complete because of it.

 

 

 

i don't knowI don’t know, by Leah Hager Cohen

We’ve all been there – faced with a question you don’t know the answer to, you feign knowledge and familiarity. Sometimes I feel like I got a degree in that – I got really good at sounding smart by saying pretty much nothing as an undergrad. We’re scared to not know things, scared we might look incompetent or stupid. In this short volume, Leah Cohen explains why we’re afraid of the things we don’t know and in turn shows us why we shouldn’t be. Being able to say “I don’t know” can be incredibly liberating and empowering. After all, doesn’t the unknown lie at the heart of all discovery?

 

 

 

To find Health & Self-Improvement books, click here.

See Staff Picks for all our categories! 


Anne

Anne Kosmoski is the Assistant Publicity Director for Gotham and Avery. She has books her in blood … and all over her apt, which makes choosing the right one at bedtime easier for her two daughters. Books, daughters, mom and dad all live in Brooklyn.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crossword Century

The Crossword Century, by Alan Connor

To be honest, I am more of a Tuesday – crossword gal than a Sunday. But Alan Connor’s book about the history and secret lives of crosswords, made me feel like a Crossword Queen. Spies, secret codes, upside down words – it’s all in there and more. Everything you need to know about a subject you didn’t know you were fascinated by. This is my kind of beach reading!

 

 

 

 

Geek Dad.indd

Geek Dad: Awesomely Geeky Projects for Dads and Kids to Share, by Ken Denmead

It’s summer which means school is out and the playgrounds and backyard projects are in. Our family loves Ken Denmead’s Geek Dad. It is a treasure trove of crazy experiments (exploding soda) and fun projects (the Best Slip-n-Slide ever). And he has clear cut, easy to follow instructions for those who aspire to be geeks but wouldn’t know binary if this was written in it.

 

 

 

An Illustrated Guide to Cocktails

An Illustrated Guide to Cocktails by Orr Shtuhl, Illustrator: Elizabeth Graeber

Aah, summer. It is not often that we entertain, but when we do I love a themed cocktail. This book looks like a classy party with beautiful people and witty repartee. One or two vespers and your party will look that way too.

 

 

 

 

 

This Book Will Save Your Life

This Book Will Save Your Life, by A.M. Homes

I am an evangelist for this book. First, I love the title and I love watching people react when I give it to them. Second, it’s just a great read. A M Homes take on modern living is sarcastic, deadpan, and brilliant.

 

 

 

 

 

Dude and Zen Master

The Dude and the Zen Master, by Jeff Bridges and Bernie Glassman

Even a mom needs some downtime and I am lucky enough to get in a yoga class here and there. One teacher began a class with a quote from this book and I haven’t looked back since. As the book says, a beautiful mix of enlightenment and entertainment. It keeps me grounded, makes me laugh, and reminds me to step back and just take it all in. The dude abides.

 

 

 

Lama Lama Time to Share

Llama Llama Time to Share, by Anna Dewdney          

I couldn’t help it. This is a current family favorite (and even the one year old reads along). If you have young children and have not ventured into the world of Llama Llama, you should.

 

 

 

 

To find Health & Self-Improvement books, click here.

See Staff Picks for all our categories! 


Farin

Farin Schlussel works in the marketing department at Gotham Books and Avery, where she has encountered map thieves, scientists, strong librarians, delicious recipes, and lots of dog and cat photos. When she’s not hanging out at her local library, where everyone greets her like Norm from Cheers, she enjoys seeing Broadway shows, watching British TV, drinking copious amounts of coffee, and catering to the whims of her mischievous cocker spaniel.

 

 

The Coconut Oil Miracle by Bruce Fife

The Coconut Oil Miracle, 5th Edition, by Bruce Fife

My favorite thing about The Coconut Oil Miracle is that it takes this “it” ingredient beyond the kitchen. For example, did you know that coconut oil also makes a great insect repellent, sunburn treatment, and diaper cream? Or that it promotes healthy skin and hair? Yes, there is so much more to coconut oil than Zico Water.

 

 

 

 

Budget Bytes by Beth Moncel

Budget Bytes, by Beth Moncel

How do I love thee, Budget Bytes? Let me count the ways… Actually, there are too many to count, but to narrow it down: every recipe I’ve made, be it from the book or the blog, has been super easy and absolutely delicious, and, yes, inexpensive. However, my favorite thing about the book is not the extra money in my pocket; thanks to Beth’s nutritionist background, all the dishes contain fresh ingredients, so I feel good about what I make, even if I do sometimes eat it straight out of the pot. Budget Bytes is a staple in my kitchen and should definitely be one in yours!

 

 

Success Through Stillness by Russell Simmons

Success Through Stillness, by Russell Simmons

I’m a born and bred New Yorker with a gold medal in power walking, so it’s pretty difficult for me to slow down. Luckily, there’s hip hop mogul and master entrepreneur Russell Simmons, who, with the nickname Uncle Rush, is crafted from the same mold, but who found stillness and success through meditation. His new (and New York Times bestselling) book shows how meditation can lead to success and outlines different methods of meditation so you can find the one that’s right for you. I’m a big fan of chair meditation, which can be done pretty much anywhere.

 

 

The Willpower Instinct by Kelly Mcgonigal

The Willpower Instinct, by Kelly McGonigal

Let’s be honest, we all want to exercise a little more willpower in some area of our lives. In The Willpower Instinct, Kelly McGonigal gives the reader all the tools to achieve that goal and also shows why willpower is important. I particularly like that Kelly doesn’t advise going cold turkey when giving up a habit, but to take it in small steps instead. I also like that she tells it like it is; when she spoke at the Random House Open House in November, she very bluntly stated that just saying you want to change is not enough, you have to really mean it and take action. (On a completely unrelated note, not only is Kelly smart, she’s also a theatre nut like me, which raises her level of cool exponentially.)

 

Operation Beautiful by Caitlin Boyle

Operation Beautiful, by Caitlin Boyle

Every time I think about this book, I break out in a huge grin. I love the idea of women empowering other women by leaving post-it notes emblazoned with words of encouragement like YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL in the places that tend to affect our self-esteem the most – bathroom mirrors, gym lockers, etc. Body image is so skewed in our society, and the messages in this book are so inspiring.

 

 

Find more books on the Health/Wellness category page!

See Staff Picks for all our categories! 


ohsheglowsWe were in the middle of our weekly publicity and marketing meeting and were discussing our New York Times bestselling Avery title, The Oh She Glows Cookbook and what we could do to celebrate this gorgeous and inspiring book by powerhouse vegan blogger Angela Liddon, when one of my colleagues made a suggestion.

“Maybe we should go vegan for a week.”

I’ll admit, my first thought was “How will I live without cheese?” But as we started to talk the idea through, the trepidation yielded to excitement. The recipes in The Oh She Glows Cookbook would provide everyone with more than enough delectable dishes to make it through the week (Chakra Caesar Salad! Easy Chana Masala! Chocolate Espresso Torte!), and the social media possibilities were endless, from sharing photos on Instagram and Twitter to getting Angela to tell her followers about our challenge.  When we started talking about taking it company-wide, I was all in.

And then we learned about US VegWeek, a weeklong celebration from April 21-27 that explores the many benefits of vegetarian eating—for our health, the planet, and animals. Restaurants and businesses across the country are set to promote the week, events (cooking demonstrations, movie screenings) are being held in major markets, and elected officials (Henry Waxman, Tammy Duckworth) are taking the 7Day VegPledge. It was a chance for us to be a part of something bigger and to give even more people a chance to get their glow on. We all promptly signed up and took the pledge.

Now, it’s your turn! Join us in the VegPledge, for one meal, or even the whole week and post photos of the vegetarian or vegan dishes you make on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr with the hashtag #USVegWeek. It’s going to be delicious!


The Fat Chance Cookbook, Robert H. LustigI made the baked oatmeal recipe on a Sunday morning, looking forward to eating it over the week. It seemed like a healthy and easy option and a little bit of a switch from my usual breakfast. I opted to make them into muffins, as the recipe notes give as an alternative, and I used frozen chopped peaches. It all came together in less than fifteen minutes, with ingredients I had ready in the pantry, and couldn’t have been easier to do. I also liked that this recipe uses no white flour, since I’m trying to cut back like everyone else and their gluten-free mother. The mixture pretty much filled a dozen muffin cups, but they do bake down some. They smelled wonderful, with the peaches, cinnamon, and vanilla. The measurements for the cinnamon and vanilla might seem like a lot, especially to experienced bakers, but you really do need them since there is (naturally) not much sugar in the recipe. To eat, I mixed Greek yogurt with a little honey and then crumbled a muffin into it. This is definitely not sweet (sorry to all the flavored oatmeal lovers out there), but the oats and fruit have a nice flavor, which I found improved the day after baking, and I enjoyed it with the yogurt.
BAKED FRUIT OATMEAL
Ingredients:
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats2 teaspoons ground cinnamon2 teaspoons baking powder

2 tablespoons brown sugar or honey (optional)

1 teaspoon salt

1. cups unsweetened soy milk (2 percent milk is also OK)

1 pound sweet apples, diced

2 tablespoons rice bran, coconut, or safflower oil

2 large eggs, or 4 large egg whites (save the yolks for another use)

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

STEP 1: Preheat the oven to 350°F.

STEP 2: Spray a 9-by-9-inch baking pan with cooking oil.

STEP 3: Combine the rolled oats, cinnamon, baking powder, brown sugar, if using, and salt in a medium-size bowl.

STEP 4: Combine the soy milk, apples, oil, eggs, vanilla, and honey, if using, in a large bowl. Add the oat mixture and mix well. Pour the oatmeal batter into the prepared baking pan.

STEP 5: Bake the oatmeal on the middle rack until the center is set and firm to the touch, 45 minutes.

Cool for 10 minutes, cut and serve. Can be served at room temperature. Covered, it will keep in the refrigerator for up to three days.

The Fat Chance Cookbook, Robert H. Lustig

VARIATIONS:

• Make muffins using a nonstick muffin pan that makes 12. The baking time will be 25 minutes.

• Use fresh or frozen chopped peaches, about 2 fresh peaches or 1 cup frozen, in place of the apples.


The Fat Chance Cookbook, Robert H. Lustig

This weekend I made two recipes from Rob Lustig’s new book THE FAT CHANCE COOKBOOK. It’s not as cold as the polar vortex right now but it’s still chilly and I was happy to test out Old-Fashioned Beef Stew and Quick Chicken Tikka Masala. Both recipes were very easy to follow with simple ingredients and I was lucky enough to check out the new Brooklyn Whole Foods in Gowanus to stock up. The stew took longer to make than I expected – all the chopping of the vegetables added up to about an hour but the rest of the evening I spent letting it simmer (for three house) while catching up on Game of Thrones, so I can’t complain!

The Tikka Massala came together very quickly and the spices were delicious – I was a little disappointed that it didn’t turn out as vibrant and red as the chicken tikka masala I usually order in from a nearby Indian place but I felt good about the ingredients and as Rob points out I’m sure it was much healthier! Hardly any fat and I used chicken thighs to add flavor – they are so much more delicious than the chewy bits of chicken that come in fast food Indian orders. And the best part is I’ve been enjoying the many leftovers from both dishes for lunch all week.


OLD-FASHIONED BEEF STEW AND VEGETABLES

Ingredients

½ cup oil: olive, safflower, or rice bran

1 cup chopped celery

1 cup chopped and peeled onions

1 cup chopped carrots

1 teaspoon dried thyme, or 1 tablespoon fresh thyme

4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1 1/2 pounds beef stew meat

8 cups liquid (water, wine, stock, or a mixture)

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon cracked black pepper

2 cups 1-inch pieces scrubbed carrots or parsnips

2 cups scrubbed diced potatoes

STEP 1: Heat 1/4 cup of oil in a cast-iron or stainless steel pot. (Make sure it has a tight-fitting lid.) Saute the celery, onions, carrots, thyme, and garlic in the pot until brown and tender. When aromatic vegetables are brown, remove them from the pot with a slotted spoon and reserve in a small bowl.

The Fat Chance Cookbook, Robert H. Lustig

STEP 2: Place the flour in a bowl. Dredge the meat, shaking off the excess flour. Add the remainder of oil to the pot and cook the meat over medium-high heat, quickly browning but not cooking. Do this in small batches. Take the meat out and reserve on plate.

STEP 3: Add the liquid to the pot and bring to a boil while scrapping up the brown bits from the bottom of the pot. While it dissolves it will add flavor to the gravy.

STEP 4: Reduce the heat to low and return the meat and the aromatics to the liquid. It’s very important that the stew must simmer and not boil. Slowly cook the stew over low heat so the liquid barely simmers.

Cover and cook for 2 hours.

STEP 5: After the meat has had a chance to cook for a while, add the 1-inch pieces of carrot and the potatoes. Cook until the meat is fork tender, about an hour. Adjust the salt and pepper and serve.

QUICK CHICKEN TIKKA MASALA

Ingredients

4 teaspoons garam masala*

1/2 teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon ground turmeric

½ cup unbleached all-purpose fl our

1 pound chicken tenders

4 teaspoons canola oil, divided

6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

1 large sweet onion, peeled and diced

4 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger,

or 1 tablespoon ground ginger

1 can (28 ounces) plum tomatoes with their juices

1/3 cup heavy (whipping) cream

½ cup chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish

* Garam masala is a blend of spices used in Indian cooking. Usually includes cardamom, black pepper, nutmeg, fennel, cumin, and coriander.

STEP 1: Stir together the garam masala, salt, and turmeric in a small dish. Place the flour in a shallow dish. Sprinkle the chicken with ½ teaspoon of the spice mixture and dredge in the flour. Reserve the remaining spice mix and 1 tablespoon of the remaining flour.

STEP 2: Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken until browned, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.

STEP 3: Heat the remaining 2 teaspoons oil in the pan over medium low heat. Add the garlic, onion, and ginger and cook, stirring often until starting to brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the reserved spice mix and cook, stirring until fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Sprinkle the reserved 1 tablespoon flour and stir until coated.

STEP 4: Add the tomatoes and their juices. Bring to a simmer, stirring and breaking up the tomatoes with a wooden spoon. Cook, stirring often, until thickened and the onion is tender, 3 to 5 minutes.

STEP 5: Stir in the cream. Add the chicken and any accumulated juices to the pan. Bring to a simmer and cook over medium-low heat until the chicken is cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes. Garnish with the cilantro.

—Caitlin O’Shaughnessy, Viking Adult


The Fat Chance Cookbook, Robert H. Lustig

One of my New Year’s resolutions for 2014 is to cook more and another is to eat healthier, so the timing of Robert Lustig’s “Fat Chance Cookbook” was perfect.

I am by no means a cook; and I actually sort of hate cooking. Things always seem to go horribly wrong when I do try to cook, and I have absolutely no patience (or timing). As a result, my culinary skills involve heavy microwave use and a lot of takeout. So for the first recipe of the New Year, I decided to go with something easy. I chose “Green Pasta” (p. 226-227) of The Fat Chance Cookbook.

 

 

Recipe:

Makes: 4 cups

Serving size: 1 cup

Active time: 20 minutes

Total time: 40 minutes

Ingredients:

½ pound whole-grain angel hair pasta or spaghetti

1 cup packed fresh spinach, chopped

1 cup basil leaves, packed

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon olive oil

½ cup low-fat milk

Salt and pepper, to taste

½ cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

Step 1: Cook the pasta according to package directions. In a blender, or food processor if you have one, blend the spinach and basil until mixed.

Step 2: In a large saucepan, sauté the garlic in olive oil. Add the milk and spinach mixture to the saucepan. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer. Stir occasionally until the sauce thickens slightly. Remove from heat. Add the pasta; season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with the cheese. Serve immediately.

Sounds easy enough, right? 8 ingredients and 2 steps. I think even I can handle this one.                  The Fat Chance Cookbook, Robert H. LustigI already had all the ingredients except the spinach and basil, so I headed to the store to pick them up. Problem number one: the grocery store didn’t carry fresh spinach, so I had to buy frozen. Make that three steps! Frustratingly, I had to cook and drain the spinach, and it was soggy and warm. I figured it wouldn’t hurt the taste of the pasta, but I’d highly recommend driving around and finding fresh spinach to cut out this step.

The Fat Chance Cookbook, Robert H. Lustig drain

I then moved on to cooking the pasta. I prefer angel hair because I like my pasta soft and it cooks pretty quickly. I dumped a whole box of angel hair into a large pot and let it boil. Step 1 down! On to the next one.

“In a blender…” And here we encounter problem number 2.  (See? Bad luck). At the time of this cooking adventure I was staying at a friend’s house—a lovely friend, but a friend without a blender. After digging through her cupboards, I found a food processor. Or really, parts of a food processor. After trying for about ten minutes to put the thing together I gave up. Plan B? I threw the soggy spinach and basil leaves on the cutting board, grabbed a huge knife, and just went at it.

The Fat Chance Cookbook, Robert H. LustigI then sautéed the garlic (smelling good!) and added the milk and spinach mixture. While that was cooking, I drained the pasta. I let the sauce cook for about 5-7 minutes and then added it to the pasta.

The Fat Chance Cookbook, Robert H. Lustig The Fat Chance Cookbook, Robert H. Lustig

Mistake #3 (you knew it was coming) I cooked double the amount of pasta the recipe called for, so the sauce didn’t go very far! However, I tasted the spinach/basil mix on its own and it was fantastic.

The Fat Chance Cookbook, Robert H. Lustig

Voila!

Despite my inevitable mishaps, the pasta turned out great. Even the most inexperienced cooks can pull this one off. And I didn’t feel guilty for eating it! I also had some as leftovers the next day (this time I cooked an egg over-easy in a pan and then tossed the leftover pasta in) and they were DELICIOUS. This dish would also go well with chicken. It’s a fast, easy recipe that tastes great!

The Fat Chance Cookbook, Robert H. Lustig The Fat Chance Cookbook, Robert H. Lustig

Now that I have a blender and fresh spinach I may just try again!

—Amanda Oberg, Publicity Assistant, Plume and Hudson Street Press


The Fat Chance Cookbook, Robert H. LustigIt was like, fifteen degrees outside all this weekend in New York.  I just want you to appreciate that.  Fifteen degrees is cold.  Very cold.  When I remembered that I was supposed to make this recipe and blog about it, I was a little disappointed to see that all I had in my fridge was a tub of possibly questionable creme fraiche and a bag of carrots.  So I had to go outside in the ridiculously bitter cold to buy potatoes, cheese, and broccoli.  I lost a toe to frostbite all in order to bring this recipe to you, Penguin blog readers!  Well, ok, that’s not really true, but I could have.

However, if your fridge is reasonably well-stocked (by “well-stocked,” I basically mean that you have other groceries beside hoity-toity expired dairy and rabbit food), then this is a great recipe for you because it’s easy, healthy, and very tasty.  It really doesn’t even feel like health food, which is why when we were divvying up recipes for these blog posts, I jumped on it.

Potatoes? Delicious. Cheddar cheese? Delicious. Broccoli covered in cheesy potatoes? Delicious. Cheesy broccoli potatoes topped with a dollop of creme fraiche that is a little bit….off?  Still delicious.

Recipe from Fat Chance Cookbook:

Broccoli-Cheddar Cheese Potatoes

3 baked russet potatoes

2 bunches of broccoli, steamed until just tender

½ c. milk

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. ground pepper

12 ounces cheddar cheese, grated

Toss broccoli, milk, salt, pepper and 10 ounces cheese with scooped out baked potato flesh. Stuff skins and sprinkle remaining cheese over all. Roast in the oven at 400 degrees for 25 minutes.

Posted by:  Ashley Pattison McClay, Associate Director of Marketing, Plume and Hudson Street Press